Effective next month, Rwandan engineers, medics, IT specialists, statisticians and other professionals will begin volunteering with their skills as part of the national community work, Umuganda.
Every last Saturday of the month, Rwandans meet in their respective neighborhoods to repair roads, clear shrubs or plant trees.
Foreigners also proudly join this customary five-hour activity whose 2007 law provides for Rwf 5000 of fines only for any Rwandan who dodge it.
Valued in monetary terms, Umuganda contribution increased to Rwf17 billion in 2014 from Rwf 12 billion in 2012.
For the first quarter of this year, the value has exceeded Rwf 9 billion, according to ministry of local government (MINALOC), which supervises the activity.
Through Umuganda, Rwandans have built offices of micro finance institutions, Umurenge Sacco, across 400 sectors of the country.
They also built over 11,000 classrooms for the twelve year basic education (12YE), which allowed Rwanda to enroll over 95% children in Primary School.
In the next financial year Umuganda is expected to contribute Rwf 15 billion, a projection that considered only activities at the district level.
To increase productivity, professionals will now contribute with their skills where required.
“We can do it,” says Jean Marie Vianney Usengumuremyi, President of Association of private schools. “Schools that train ICT technicians can commit to train a number of poor people in the community free of charge. And this would improve the level of computer literacy.”
Engineers also have an approach. Fred Rwihunda, President of the Institute of Engineers of Rwanda told KT Press, “For us, we can design a manual that will teach community best practices in infrastructure maintenance.”
He said they intend to study and develop models that have a national impact, such as water harvesting models.
To go about this, associations of professionals are required to make an annual action plan specifying their pledges.
The government will offer support in activities that require funds or tools an association may not afford.
On June 3, Vincent Munyeshyaka, the Permanent Secretary in Minaloc said the idea was borrowed from the Army Week whereby military medical personnel treat different diseases for free.
The military hospital has in the past two years treated 30,000 patients with severe diseases.
Munyeshya is thus convinced, professionals can have a huge contribution.